SPAT is the word for the tiniest form of shellfish that has settled onto the place where it will live out its life. The SPAT program was created to encourage community members to become stewards of their environment and to restore shellfish to the bays.
To augment the limited staff of the Cornell Marine Program*, volunteers help produce shellfish to seed the bays. SPAT volunteers grow miniscule shellfish in containment, away from predators, until they reach adult size when they are released into local creeks and bays.
Volunteers are offered monthly workshops and provided with shellfish seed and necessary tools and supplies to grow their shellfish gardens either at their own waterfront or in the SPAT community garden. In exchange for a minimal fee, all permits are secured and volunteers may harvest half of the shellfish for personal use while the other half is returned to the waters.
Volunteers maintaine the hatchery ("SPAT Shack"), and nursery. Over 400 people have taken part in this program and it continues to grow each year.
*The Cornell Marine Program maintained a shellfish hatchery for ten years, producing 10 million shellfish annually, before the inception of the SPAT program.
Four goals are seen in the excerpts and quotes from the open house interview by Marcelle S. Fischler in the Long Island Section of the New York Times, January 21, 2001.
THE cheerleader for clams, oysters and scallops was standing in the middle of the algae laboratory, holding up a flask half full of a concoction from Tahiti that looked like liquid butterscotch in one hand and a glass of white wine in the other. (This opening line is not a goal.)
To teach culturing, spawning, planting and monitoring shellfish, he recently jumpstarted the Southold Project in Aquaculture Training with an open house. The new training program may help the environment and hasten a shellfish renaissance. Lessons include seeding and tending shellfish gardens by the hatchery in the canals. Research opportunities and monthly workshops.
This is a community effort for the betterment of the town and everybody in the town. That's a critical component and that's why it's going to work. Participants sign on as stewards.
For his shellfish restoration and information gathering effort ... targeting ... folks who remember the days when the bay was so covered in scallops they risked getting their toes snapped walking in the water. To reseed the bay ... The whole point of this project and the whole point of my job ... is to provide the parents for the food that you eat from the bay. His goal, "We want our bays back. Like in the glory days."
From the hatchery, the shellfish are moved to upwellers in the nursery outside until they are large enough to be transferred to the creek or bay.
Though not mentioned in the NYT, this goal later became a necessity, as a result of the budget cuts.
"Marine Dreams: an Oyster in Every Plot" (from the Long Island Journal section of The New York Times on January 21, 2001) http://www.nytimes.com/2001/01/21/nyregion/long-island-journal-marine-dreams-an-oyster-in-every-plot.html?scp=1&sq=long%20island%20journal:%20january%2021,%202001&st=cse
The SPAT Program is financed by federal grants, corporate sponsorships, foundation support, participant fees and fund raising.